What is the best way to backup our vCenter? (versions 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 6.7)

SUMMARY

We'll explain the best way to backup our vCenter versions 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, or 6.7.

ISSUE

Question: What is the best way to backup our vCenter?

Following is a list of problems that may occur when the vCenter is being backed up virtually: 

  • A message in vSphere that it has lost connectivity.
  • The post-backup process is encountering a storage error.
  • If using UB Virtual Appliance, the UB may experience a loss of communication with the Hypervisor/vCenter.
  • If using UB Virtual Appliance, the UB may hang.
  • The Guest VMs that was being backed up, may encounter a locked snapshot that will restrict access to the virtual machine
  • You cannot restore vCenter backups even though the incremental was successful.

RESOLUTION

Always add the ESXi hosts and the vCenter to your Unitrends appliance. This helps streamline communications and helps later on when an unexpected vCenter error occurs and you need to perform recovery operations.  When performing a virtual backup of vCenter, perform it as a Full backup only. For specifics based on vCenter release versions and best practice, see your options below:


For All vCenter Versions
The safest method is to use vCenter's best practice for backing up by shutting down the postgres database, and running a process backups up the vCenter profiles and places it in a location of your choice. This is especially important for VMs older then 6.0.

vCenter 5.5 and older
A virtual backup should avoided while the VM is powered on. It is recommended that you perform VMware's recommend best practice of stopping the database first and then performing the manual backup. Full instructions are found in VMware KB 2034505. You can perform the virtual full backup while the database is shut down or the vCenter is powered off.

vCenter 6.0
You can perform a virtual backup of the vCenter by running an OnDemand Full only after confirming that there are no backups occuring, and no snapshots or vMotion in progress. You should also perform the work indicated in VMware's document "Back up and restore vCenter Server Appliance/vCenter Server 6.0 vPostgres database".

vCenter 6.5 and Above
You can choose any of the options above, including their new backup utility inside vCenter through the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface. We recommend more than one for maximum protection.

CAUSE

vCenter uses a high performance database called PostgreSQL which stores most of the database and changes in RAM. It is not virtualization aware and does not handle the snapshot request like a Windows computer can. When VMware performs the snapshot stun, data in RAM is at risk for loss affecting current snapshots or vmotion processes.

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